I have loved dates for a very long time. I do think they’re one of the world’s best food, and completely more versatile than they’re often understood to be. They’re not just for desserts, as in the recipe I’m about to show you, but they’re wonderful in salads, great to cook with when dried (I love when they’re part of a savory rice dish), or even made into a paste for more than just baking dishes.
But you probably want a dessert recipe right about now, don’t you?
I had a complete craving for dates mixed with almonds, coconut and pistachios. Kind of convenient when you think about what a delicious combination that can be- and I have a seriously easy recipe for you: Date Nut Balls (or Logs, which I’ll show you), which are then rolled in either coconut or ground pistachio.
To grind the pistachio simply take the meat out of the shell (or purchase pistachio meat only) and run it through a food processor. If you have a small amount, you could use a coffee/spice grinder to do this. Just be sure to do it right before making this recipe because if it’s not fresh, you can taste it.
Next for the ground coconut. This is basically coconut flakes ground even further. I find this in my international grocery markets with the nuts and dried fruits.
I put coconut flakes in the ingredients list, but I don’t actually use it here. I just wanted to show that you might find flakes this big (although typically smaller) and these can be put through the food processor or coffee/spice grinder, too, to make ground coconut. You could also use a a decoration once the dessert is finished- but that might look a little messy. Whatever floats your boat.
Next up- this recipe is really good with raw toasted almonds because they have a deeper flavor, but if all you have is regular, by all means use those instead.
Now for the star of this dessert show: Medjool dates. Ahhh….my most favorite of all the dates I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot. I think it’s because they’re meaty and stuffable. But I think I’ve already told you that somewhere else on this blog. It’s repeat-worthy, I think…
I should also tell you that you can get very good organic Medjool dates that are California-grown (Bard Valley), from Natural Delights, which are halal-certified, too. They sent me a few boxes so I could make all sorts of good things with them to show you. I also like the fact that to us here in the Midwest, they’re actually our most ‘local’ date product.
So to make the dessert, you have to pit the dates. That means take the pit out. I sometimes don’t get why they say ‘pit’ the olive, or ‘pit’ the date when you’re actually removing it. Being a former English teacher, I should know that answer. If my former students are reading this, I’m sure you can and will ‘Google’ the answer…
Back to the dates.
Remove the pit by gently pulling the date apart horizontally.
Take the pit out. It almost looks like a small nut.
Obviously it’s not crunchy, so you wouldn’t miss it if you bit into it. But it might ruin your food processor or blender if you left it in, so atencion!
What I love about these dates is that they’re flexible. Repairable is probably a better word. Back to semantics again…
What I mean is that for people like me who are kind of messy when cooking, baking and preparing things, it means that if you needed to present these dates beautifully, no one would know that you worked that date a little bit because it goes back together so perfectly. Masha’Allah.
See what I mean?
Now it’s time to roll. Well, we’ll mix first then we’ll roll.
Add the pitted dates to a food processor.
Add the almonds.
Get ready to hold on tight. It’s really going to move the food processor around a bit, especially once the mixture thickens.
I process on high for about 15-30 seconds then stop it to see where it’s at. If the almonds are all still quite big, I just keep going but pulsing it so I have control over the mixture, then blend at 5 second increments. This is how you want it to look, and it will be sticky.
Spread out the coconut on a plate. This is where you’ll roll the balls once they’re formed.
Do the same with the ground pistachio.
Now we’re ready to roll. Quite literally. Between your hands, just like you do meatballs. If you make those.
Now simply roll the ball over the ground pistachio.
And keep rolling, until you get as much of the topping on it as you like. It’ll stick.
And do the same with the coconut. In no time, you can have them all done.
Don’t they look like munchkin donuts?
Now I”ll throw you a loop- you can also make date logs if you like those, instead. They’re done exactly the same way, but just shaped differently and made according to the size you prefer.
Roll the same as you do the balls.
Now slice them into pieces so everyone can have a taste. You don’t have to do this, but I find that a whole log is just too much for most people. But maybe you know people who aren’t most people and who prefer the whole log. Again, whatever floats your boat.
And of course it’s the same withe the pistachio.
Cut them into bit size pieces and serve, or preserve until you’re ready to serve. These stay good in the fridge for about a week, covered. I just like to bring them to room temperature before serving.
And I have to admit that I like the ball shape better. Actually, I like the fact that they’re less work- no cutting involved, and you can make them small, medium or large.
Sweet, isn’t it?
Would you take these to a Ramadan Iftar party or serve them to guests at your own?
- 18 pitted Medjool dates
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 cup ground coconut
- 1 cup ground pistachio
- Pit the dates. Add to a food processor, then add the almonds. Pulse or blend for about 30 seconds, making sure that the almonds are fairly well chopped. The mixture should result in a sticky mass, and usually moves to one side of a food processor when done.
- Place the ground coconut and the ground pistachio onto separate plates.
- Roll the mixture in your hands until it forms a ball. Roll in the ground coconut or pistachio until fully covered. Continue to do so until all of the dates rolls have been coated. Keep chilled until ready to serve. Keeps for about one week fresh, in the refrigerator.
- Prep time is set up. Cook time is food processor time plus rolling time.